Searching for a decent cup of coffee can be a challenge. Luckily for me, my path to work intersects with Van Leeuwen’s Panda truck stake-out of 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. A large Intelligentsia Americano with a bit of half and half from the big yellow truck is my usual and fool-proof order.
However, sometimes I’m not in range of a Van Leeuwen truck (GASP!). And sometimes, I go out of my way and travel to the far reaches of the universe (Alphabet City!!) just because I want to try something different. We are supposed to be giving you sage advice regarding taste, are we not? Therefore, we must adequately research – throwing caution to the wind and occasionally being late for work because we stopped to take a photo of a parked cherry red Vespa while ambling ever-so-slowly back to the Flatiron District. And by “we” I mean “me”.
Sage is great by the way, especially in a brown butter sauce with cheese ravioli.
But back to coffee! This past Wednesday, I was no where near the Tompkins Square neighborhood. But I travel well, so I ended up at the 10th Street (between Aves A and B) location of Ninth Street Espresso.
I rolled up to the counter at the back of the long, narrow shop and ordered a latte. Normally during the work week I have a regular coffee or an Americano with a little half and half. But a latte is perhaps my favorite coffee drink. I enjoy a good cappuccino – if I can find one, but there is something decadent and also breakfast-y about all that steamed milk poured over the perfect amount of espresso. Especially if it is served in a bowl.
The Ninth Street coffee blends are made from Intelligentsia beans. I was overcome with pleasant emotions at this revelation – startling both barristas with my reaction. Ninth Street gets their coffee from Intelligentsia, and then creates their own custom blend. They also sell packages of these blends at their store locations.
My latte was a fine blend of milk and espresso – a touch more bitter than I usually like. Nevertheless, the milk was both frothy and creamy (it shouldn’t be all foam like a cappuccino). And the steamed milk art was very impressive as well.
Fully caffeinated, I strolled West on 10th Street to work, snapping a few random photos along the way.
Like some very cool iron-worked doorways:
And a Vespa, John’s dream vehicle.
John recently asked me if a Vespa would be tax-deductible. I responded only if we were using it to deliver pizzas at our Neapolitan pizza joint in Austin, Texas. Which doesn’t exist, by the way. But these are the things we discuss over gchat during the course of the day.
Anyway, I made it to work (mostly) on time, but I needed to further research Ninth Street Espresso. I decided to visit their Chelsea Market location for a compare/contrast.
Their Chelsea Market location is a walk-up counter and has a fast-paced, we-mean-business attitude in contrast to the more low-key, relaxed 10th Street vibe. I like this peppier vibe. It makes me think that the barristas have been drinking the punch. Or the coffee, as it were (or is).
I again order a latte, and am more pleased with the results at this location. I know they are using the same beans (perhaps they blend them differently here?), but the espresso is smoother, perhaps indicating a more balanced ratio of espresso to milk.
The milk art was, however, a little more elaborate at the 10th Street location.
Coffee Drinking Experience: Top Gun – The Well Working Formula
75 9th Ave. (Between 9th & 10th Ave) 212-228-2930
700 East 9th Street (Between Ave C & D)
341 East 10th St. (Between Ave A & B)